Monday, April 5, 2010

The Frightening Similarities Between Duke Basketball and Tim Tebow.

I like Tebow and strongly dislike Duke, but is there a legit comparison between the two?

I'm not a huge college basketball fan. Pretty much, I consider myself a fan of the sport from the start of conference championship week until the Championship game on the first Monday night in April. Six weeks of interest at max. Of course, by the time the Championship game comes around, I'm all into it, and I tell myself that I should start to follow it earlier next year...only November rolls around and I once again treat regular season college basketball like a mix of Bubonic plague and the WNBA. I just can't make myself like it until late February, and I've come to grips with that fact.

Somehow I managed to spell "Krzyzewski" correctly without looking. I don't know how I got that lucky.

Despite my rather shallow fanship of the sport, I have followed it long enough to develop a distaste for Duke. Something about them rubs me the wrong way. I don't know if it's because I couldn't spell Coach K's last name if my life depended on it...In fact, here is my best shot prior to looking at Google. (Krzyzewski) Holy crap, I swear to the god of all things holy that I didn't look that up, and somehow I got Krzyzewski spelled right! What are the odds? I should go buy a lottery ticket or something.

"Me, Cherokee!"

Anyway, that whole unbelievable luck of spelling Krzyzemski correctly kind of ruined my point, but to continue what I was saying...I don't much care for Duke, but not with the blind hatred that so many carry against them. I just dislike them because they win a lot...way too much, in fact. I dislike them because half their team looks like poster children for the Aryan race. I dislike the smugness of Christian Laettner and the fact that he was somehow a member of the Dream Team. (One of these things is not like the other, Christian.)

How badly would USA Basketball like to go back in Doc Brown's DeLorean and right this wrong?

I dislike the way they pound the floor to show their defensive intensity. I dislike their preppiness. I disliked Bobby Hurley, and I can't believe that Mr. and Mrs. Parks thought it was a good idea to name their son Cherokee. I hate those tools that call themselves the Cameron Crazies and hop up and down all game in Cameron Indoor Stadium, and I hate that they call their stadium Cameron Indoor Stadium. Seriously? It's basketball, is saying "Indoor" really necessary at this point? Are there outdoor NCAA basketball games popping up everywhere that I am unaware of?

Cameron as not to be confused with an outdoor stadium.

This year I saved my most intense dislike on Duke for two players. To a lesser extent Brian Zoubek, mainly because he looks like a big dumb animal; and to a greater extent Kyle Singler, because for some reason to me he seems to exude an evil aura. (I know that's dumb, and he's probably a great guy, but there is something about the way that guy looks that gives me the heebie jeebies.)

I can't be the only guy to find Bobby Hurley annoying.

I was really bummed this evening when the desperation half-court heave for Butler rimmed in and out because really, if that had gone down, not only would Duke NOT have won, but it would have been the best game in NCAA history, or at least on a very short list. Alas, some things were not meant to be.

This evening I settled into the new reality that I now live in a world where the Yankees, Lakers, and Blue Devils are all at the top of the mountain simultaneously, and seriously, how depressing is that? I began to think about why I dislike the Dukies so much, really why are they generally regarded as the least likable school in college basketball? Here is where my thoughts led me, and I'm not sure I liked it.

Crazy good, and a tremendous guy, and yet he is widely disliked across the country?

We dislike Duke because they are Tim Tebow. They are intense, more talented than anyone wants to give them credit for, they have zero street cred, they play a brand of ball that is something that people say they want but dislike when they get, and they are both super ultra-white. Duke has a higher preppy factor, and Tim Tebow is much more devoutly religious, but apart from those factors, the similarities are striking.

There are a lot of Duke fans, just as Tim Tebow has a lot of supporters, so I'm not trying to say that both are universally hated, but if you check the temperature in a room full of neutral sports fans, I believe you will find significantly more Duke haters than supporters, and a lot more people who dislike Tebow than like him.

Love him or hate him, you can't deny that Tim Tebow's college career is glorious.

A lot of that is the hater factor. Tim Tebow just completed quite a career at Florida. Despite the fact that his game looks unlikely to translate well to the NFL, he's still accomplished an awful lot. In addition to his on the field success, he carries himself with a moral code that simply mystifies many sports fans. Sports fans are a crude lot at times, and the idea that a guy could be so dedicated to his belief system that he would be able to be the most popular guy on a college championship football team and also remain a virgin is like explaining to them that Martians are marching on Washington to demand equal rights for homosexuals. It's not only weird but it is monstrously difficult for the average sports fan to comprehend how it could happen.

Tebow finds himself disliked by many due to the fact that he is crazy successful, crazy talented, and in the minds of many he is certifiably crazy or worse. To those skeptical of his claims...he comes across as hypocritical. Many think that his hyper-competitiveness on the field, and his hyper-religiousity off it are a house of cards. He's too good to be true, so that means that he isn't true, and they hate him. He's too white, too good despite appearing to be an aw shucks hick, and there is just something about him.

Compare those reasons many harbor for hating Tebow with the reasons that leave so many including myself with a bad taste in their mouths for Duke. Duke is very intense, Coach K seems too good to be true, like some of his image may be an act, many people crush Duke for being too white. They seem too good to be true, yet they don't seem talented enough to be able to pull off so many championships. There is just something about Duke.

In theory, we should like both Duke and Tebow. (For the record, I'm actually a fan of Tim Tebow.) Duke is a clean program and Tim Tebow by all accounts lives one of the cleanest lives in the history of Division One football. Both play the game the right way, by giving their all and rallying people to their side with intensity and fair play, and both Duke and Tebow have found tremendous success, which usually brings throngs of adorers. However, so many of us find that there is something off putting about each of them.

Maybe if the NFL doesn't work out, Tim can transfer to Duke to hoop it up for a few years for Coach K?

I can't explain it, but it is interesting. Ask your average middle aged white guy the things they would like to see from a quarterback or a basketball program, and they'll almost certainly describe a player like Tim Tebow or a school like Duke. Then show them Duke or Tebow, and watch them turn their heads in disgust. I don't get it, but I do find it interesting. Oh, and I'm still sad that Butler fell just short.

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